How To Install Shelving with Flair!

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Estimated Time: 
2-4 hours (depending on how much detail you incorporate and whether you paint it, stain it or leave it au naturale)
Give Your Room a Little Shelf Appeal

Shelving is a great way to add both functionality and charm to any room of your home. Wall shelves are perfect additions for helping you stay organized and showcasing your personal treasures. Add a wall shelf in the kitchen for your cookbooks, in the family room to show off your kid's trophies and photos, or in your nursery to keep handy items like baby powder and diapers within easy reach.

shelving

You might choose to build your shelf from scratch. There are also a number of shelving kits on the market that are prefabricated and easy to install though they might not fit your particular style. The good news is that shelving can offer more than just function—it adds personality, too! Your only limitation is your imagination.

With the right tools you can shape your wall shelving in any way you desire. A jigsaw will allow you the freedom to give your shelving a true sense of style like adding waves and curves to the brackets (if made out of wood) or to the shelf piece itself. It's a snap with a jigsaw. Use a router to make decorative or roundover edges. You're no longer relegated to the lifeless and dull designs of a typical wall shelf.

Whichever way you decide to go, adding your own touch and design will make your shelving more fun, more memorable and something you'll be proud to show off as handmade.

Project Steps

Step 1

Start by first deciding where you want your new shelving to go. Once you have your location, measure how long and how wide you want the shelves to be.

You can now start to determine what raw materials you need to pick up. There are few things to consider when shopping for your shelving materials. Consider the foot traffic patterns of the room. Be sure the wall shelf is not going to interrupt the traffic flow or be in anyone's way. Keep it away from doors and wall areas where people are prone to stand or sit. Got it figured out? Great, next select your materials.

You can either purchase pre-fab shelving or raw wood/boards with decorative shelf brackets. We chose to cut our own, cutting one shelf at 3' and two at 2.5' in length and 12" wide.

Step 2

Mark the desired location of the shelves on the wall. Stand back and assess your markings. Are they exactly where you want them? If not, re-mark higher or lower until you are satisfied.

Step 3

Mark where you want your boards cut. Figuring out how long you want your shelves may take some time. Hold the boards to the wall to get an estimate. Remember, measure twice and cut once.

Jane Tip: If your shelves are longer than six feet you'll want at least three mounting brackets (one every 18 inches) to provide adequate support. Be sure to install the brackets into the wall studs and use wall anchors on any area that isn't supported by a wall stud.

Step 4

Using your circular saw and wearing your protective gear (safety glasses and ear protection), cut your boards to the desired length. Work on a flat work surface and take your time. Be sure to clamp down your wood to your work surface for added security.

Step 5

Once the boards are the length you want them draw a wavy edge pattern into the side of the board that will face the room. If you've got a steady hand draw your waves freehand; if you're really concerned about them being uniform you can use a drawing tool like a French curve, but we think it's more fun to just follow your instincts. The more waves your shelf has the more interesting it will be.

Step 6

Cut the wood following the pattern with a jigsaw. Don't worry if it doesn't follow the drawing completely. Start the saw first before pushing into the wood or the blade could jam.

Step 7

After cutting all of your shelves you can shape the edges using a router. Play around with different looks beforehand, and practice on scraps of wood. If you decide to just go for a straight, 90 degree edge, sand it until it smooth—but not too much! You don't want to flatten the curves you just cut. Use veneer edging if the edges are still too rough.

Step 8

Next, paint the shelves to your liking. Have fun with this step and don't hesitate to go with bold hues. Remember, it's only paint. Use a primer and a satin latex finish if you're using raw wood or a wood stain if you're using a high quality wood that you want to show off.

Jane Tip: To keep from making a huge mess, start by painting one side of the shelf and allow it to dry. Then paint the other side.

Step 9

Allow the paint to dry completely before going to mount your new shelves. Go back to your wall markings and using a level position your wall brackets in place. Depending on how long your shelf is you probably want to mount the brackets 6-8" from the end of the shelf. This will create balance. Use wall anchors if you are not drilling the screws directly into studs.

SAFETY TIP!: If you're unable to secure the shelf directly into the wall studs, be sure not to apply too much weight to your shelf as wall anchors can only support so much.

Step 10

After the brackets are attached and level, place the shelf on top of the brackets and secure it in place with screws.

Step 11

Repeat steps 9 and 10 until all of your shelves are mounted.

After you have cut and mounted your first couple of personalized shelves, you will see how easy it is to create custom pieces made by you. Feel free to experiment with different shapes and colors; shelves are something that every home can always use more of. Display books, pictures or make the shelves a centerpiece on their own.

Related articles:
All about paint brushes
General painting tips
Choosing power tools

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2 comments

5
Jan

I sure hope BeJane is not implying that because we're women, we're only putting little knick-Knacks on our shelves. If you want to put heavy items on the shelves, you must attach them to at least one stud (visual appeal is not the only consideration for shelf placement) and use the right kind of wall anchor. I learned a lot from this site: http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/inffastener/infanchor/infanchor.shtm Ellensue
14
Jun

Please remember that many apartment buildings, especially new ones are all concrete and are alot harder to work with, drill in and correct mistakes.